It is my firm belief that if you are seeking a life partner, you need to be clear about what it is you are looking for—what is important to you.
If you’ve had more than a few failed relationships, then that’s actually a good thing because it will help you narrow your focus. You probably will develop a list of what you don’t want and from that list, you can turn the “don’t wants” into qualities and characteristics that you do want.
My 21 year-old son is currently finding himself yearning for a significant relationship but he keeps attracting girls into his life who have a lot of insecurities and low self-esteem. When I asked him what he was looking for, the only quality he was concerned with was body size, shape and attractiveness. He really hadn’t considered the other attributes that attracted him. Consequently, he has been attracting many beautiful young women into his life, but no one has had the staying power because he is not clear about what he wants.
I suggested he make a list and put it out there to the Universe and then trust that the Universe will deliver the right person at precisely the right time. I suggest you be flexible in your list but not willing to become so compromising that you don’t even recognize the qualities you are seeking anymore.
I already wrote about need strength compatibility in Volume I, Issue 5. Those are things to consider that will determine how well your personalities are suited to each other. Even if you have some incompatible areas to your need strength profile, doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find a way to work it out. Find a way to work it out but, you can’t ignore the differences and hope they will go away. You must make a plan to negotiate the areas of conflict.
Another thing to consider is how much do you have in common. What things do you like to do together? Are there things you love to do that you want to share with your partner? How does your partner feel about doing them? Conversely, are there things your partner loves to do and wants you to love them too but you don’t? And then you must consider if there are things you love to do without your partner and can your partner understand and accept that?
I also think that a discussion of values is critical to the success of a relationship. Your enumerated lists do not have to match completely but if one of you is a vegan and the other a farmer raising beef cattle, you may have a value conflict.
Arguments around money are often the cause of conflict in relationships. How does each of you feel about spending and saving? What are you building your future toward? Where do you want to live? What kind of cars do you want to drive?
If your relationship is to include a family, then you need to discuss your thoughts about family, more than simply how many each of you wants. What are your thoughts about discipline? What are the values that you want to instill in your children? How do you feel about religious instruction of your children? How important is education and good grades?
Talking about the distribution of housework is also an area to discuss ahead of time. How much time will be spent together and how much time will be spent apart? Do you like each other’s friends? Do you have couples with whom both are happy to spend time? How does each of you feel about your partner’s family?
One thing I know for sure. Marrying or committing to someone will not change him or her. Whatever you see now, will most likely be there later and possibly will be there even stronger. The thing I like to ask is what if he or she never changes, will you still want to spend the rest of your life with this person?
I am a firm believer that some people come into our lives for a moment, some for a season and some for a lifetime. The mistake that is often made is we try to make a moment or a season person fit into a lifetime person. This will never work.
I believe strongly that each person who crosses our path in an intimate way is someone from whom we have a lesson to learn. Value the lesson and when the time is right, allow that person to exit your life. Stop trying to hold on to someone who is ready to move down the road.
Attempting to hold on to someone who is already gone, mentally or physically, only provides suffering and heartache for both of you. Always remember that an ending is always a beginning. You simply have to reframe your relationship. When relationships end, don’t look for where to place the blame. Understand that it has run its course, you have been shown the important lessons and now this person must leave your life to allow for the next phase to begin. Embrace it. Learn from it.